Chinatown is Brisbane’s main centre for Chinese culture with its restaurants, shops and festivals, all infusing the city with Asian flavour and fun. Even on weekdays, when the crowds are not there, it’s a cool place to visit and look around. Make a date of it and plan to have lunch or dinner there.
Chinatown Brisbane festivals to light up your life
Celebrate like the Chinese and get along to Chinatown for some big, happy festivities.
- Chinese Lunar New Year – The annual Chinese New Year festival (Jan or Feb) is the focal point of the three-week BrisAsia Festival. The Chinatown Mall is transformed with gorgeous red lanterns everywhere you look and tons of things to do. There are interactive workshops on activities like calligraphy, dancing and crafts, you can hang out and watch the amazing dance acts, street performers and cultural shows. Definitely do not miss the lion dancing and fire shows! And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty to eat with street food stalls and all the restaurants and eateries taking part.
- Chinese Moon Festival – An important event on the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese Moon Festival in September celebrates the time when the moon is at its brightest and roundest. Brisbane’s Chinatown puts its collective heart and soul into the festivities with a street party to suit the whole family. Just turn up and join in. There are dragon dance performances, roving stilt walkers, fan and umbrella dancing, a fire show, craft and calligraphy workshops and plenty of other attractions for all ages. Shop at the market stalls and feast on the wonderful street foods and restaurant delicacies.
- Valley Fiesta – October is the month for Valley Fiesta, a huge street party across Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and incorporating Chinatown which hosts the 4ZZZ closing party. Expect dazzling performances, live music, happy faces, great food, displays of artworks and lots of Chinese cultural influences.
Shopping in Brisbane’s Chinatown
The next best thing to shopping in a Chinese market is shopping in a Chinatown! In Brisbane, you’ll find a number of interesting shops to wander through.
- Weekend markets – Every Saturday and Sunday, Chinatown Mall becomes a busy, buzzing marketplace with pop-up tents and shady umbrellas everywhere. Have your palm read, try on some new sunglasses or clothes, get a foot massage or pore through the many other stalls of new, used and vintage goods.
- Duty free shopping – At Chinatown Duty Free, you can browse in comfort in the spacious store and receive warm, friendly service. Pick up quality jewellery; particularly popular is the opal-set jewellery that’s so well-received overseas. You can shop for prestigious perfume brands, Australian health and wellness products, sheepskin rugs, medicinal honeys, Australian wines and global liquor brands.
- Party goods – Pick up your festival gear, incense and vaping paraphernalia at Prtyplanet.
- Asian groceries – For Asian food staples and cookware, you must drop in to Garboro Trading. They’ll have exotic fruits and vegetables you may never have seen as well as ingredients for a wide array of Asian cuisines: Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and so on. You can also buy a new wok or meat cleaver, chopsticks, bamboo steamer and food goodies like frozen dumplings, chilli oil and bulk rice.
- Second hand bargains – Spend a little while in Monty’s, the long-established pawnbroker business in Wickham Street. You can get professional evaluations on your jewellery and gem stones which you can then sell if you want, or you can buy someone else’s pre-loved items. From collectables and tools to musical instruments, games and movies, you’ll find the stock range changes frequently.
- Fancy a tipple? – Valley Wine Shop stocks all your favourite beers, ciders, spirits and liqueurs, both local and imported. And of course, there is a great selection of Australian and overseas wines.
You’ll never go hungry in Chinatown!
Whether you’re feeling peckish or ravenous, you’ll be well satisfied in Brisbane’s Chinatown. It’s not just Chinese food either; in fact, you’ll have a hard time trying to decide between the Thai, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisines.
- Yum Cha – King of Kings needs to be on your Chinese food bucket list! Their yum cha is quite the experience. The enormous upstairs dining room is frequently packed with yum cha enthusiasts keen to get their fill from the groaning trolleys of treats rolling by. Pork buns, prawn dumplings, roasted duck and of course, those gorgeous little custard tarts all beckon for your attention.
- BYO – For an affordable, casual feed of fragrant curries, noodles and seafood dishes, try Tara Thai. They offer really good lunch specials on week days and the food is always fresh and quick.
- Great birthday spot – When you’re celebrating an event, Super Bowl Chinese Restaurant is a top spot to do it. It’s popular for large gatherings and young crowds because of the cheap menu and filling dishes. If it’s your birthday, you’ll be presented with ice cream and sparklers. The lights go down and the staff sing their birthday wishes to you.
- Dumplings – Everybody’s favourite, they are the namesake food at Fat Dumpling, Brisbane’s favourite dumpling joint. They’re all handmade daily so they’re plump and juicy and loaded with flavour. Poached, steamed or pan-fried, any way you eat them, they’re divine!
- Korean fusion – Think affordable street food but in a little eatery hidden in a laneway just a stone’s throw from Chinatown. All your favourite Korean dishes are on the menu at Nom Nom Korean Eatery including bibimbap, ramen, bulgogi and katsudon. It’s all healthy, full-flavoured and satisfying, not to mention really well-priced.
- Feast in style – Golden Palace Chinese Restaurant serves ‘Hong Kong on a plate’, with their authentic HK cuisine prepared by skilled chefs. Always a fun night out, the venue seats up to 300 people and offers karaoke for those who need a bit of time in the spotlight to go with their delicious meals. Get into the BBQ pork buns, Peking duck and sizzling eye fillet or go fancier and choose your live seafood from the tanks.
Brisbane’s Chinatown in Fortitude Valley is a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike. Enter via the traditional Chinese gates, watched over by the 320-kilogram stone lions – a gift from China – and allow your senses to be seduced. Parking is available in Chinatown Mall, entrance at 31 Duncan Street, or you can catch a bus or train.